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Great River Race 3rd Sept 2016

Great River Race 3rd Sept 2016

Saturday 3rd September 2016

Great London River Race 3rd September 2016        After much planning, prepping, washing of boats and covert fancy dress operations the morning came to set off for London. The journey up the M4 was uneventful although excitement was felt each time a rival club was overtaken with some of us hoping that we would be able to do the same on the water the next day.

The tow trucks made light work of the journey and after a quick stop in Chippenham for their annual "trucker's stop" full English, they arrived in good time.

On arrival at Ham, all boats were unloaded and with a quick negotiation of the stingy nettles, made it onto the water efficiently. The first 3 boats were then punted safely by junior, Lloyd, with his dad, John, in the direction of the gathering raft of boats for the overnight tow to the start line.

However, Di and Libby took charge of boat number 4, and in an attempt to prove girl power was alive and well, started punting down the Thames the other way, clearly planning to take the boat the whole 22 miles themselves as a warm up for the next morning.

With all boats and equipment sorted, it left time for a quick change and a massive detour due to some dodgy gas pipes, back to Richmond for a lovely team dinner at Zizzi's to stock up on our carbs for the next day. The late comers arrived safely and a fine time was had by all.

After, the lightweight hotel inmates headed back to their warm showers and flushing toilets whilst the hardcore Cross and Mammatt families headed back to the campsite (aka the ghetto).

After a short night's sleep, Saturday morning arrived bringing fine weather for rowing and a very excited group of rowers who looked like they'd just arrived back from Hawaii during the flood season without their razors - in fact it was clear that Gabi has smashed the theme of the fancy dress outfits when John and Nina had stepped out of their tent that morning and a fellow rower from Towy had shouted over "you are going as Nick then ... ".

The bus journey to the start went smoothly and then the long wait was punctuated with photographs, hundreds of visits to the toilet, lots of energy snacks and a bacon butty, all of course, apart from Neil "the tourist" who enjoyed a smoked salmon breakfast as he had "just come along for the ride".

Finally the time came to board our boats, as the teams split up to find their boats amongst the log jams, you can imagine the Ladies team's distress at finding their boat jammed between several crews of fine young Dutch men all about to apply their Vaseline. We really didn't know where to look!

Then, safely set free, the 4 Wiseman's boats made their way up past the Isle of Dogs ready to approach the start line. Clearly others on the water were not so wise though, as a dodgy manoeuvre by a boat in the wrong place and at the wrong time broke the blade off the oar in Gareth's hand, leaving the mixed crew having to quickly swap with a spare oar before they'd even started. Luckily the rest of the start was uneventful with all 4 boats making it over the start line and under the first few bridges without incident.

The atmosphere on the water was bubbling and the sights as we rowed through the centre of London were amazing.

The expert coxing of Jim, Gabi, Caroline and Neil (who was now starting to wonder if the big breakfast was a good idea with Lloyd perched on his lap) got the teams past many a pile up and it was a great feeling to be passing boats in the same class.

The rowers and coxes all swapped places as scheduled, although rumour has it that the Men's team had an official warnings for their erratic driving down the wrong side of the Thames!

Towards the end of the race the weather took a turn for the worst but the teams battled on through the increasing wind and rain cheered on by the fan club (booze cruise) and spectators.

All teams arrived back at Ham fit and well and the times achieved were outstanding with the three adult crews all back in less than 3 hours and the juniors coming in just after.
When the results came in everyone had done really well but more importantly, a brilliant weekend was had by all and everyone is already planning on a return trip next year.

Well done Gabi, for your expert planning.

The crews and results were:

ROK - 17 seconds - John, Jim, Jake, Gary, Graham and Nigel
Nautie Buoy - Alright Girlies - Nina, Gabi, Di, Lottie, Marja and Libby
Oarsome - Banana Splits - Rosie, Lloyd, Lowri, Harry, Jayde, Naomi and Neil
Dirty Gertie - I just sell carrots -  Lois, Gareth, Jess, Dan, Caroline and Rod.